Comment: Education is failing the travel industry – 8 Mar 2007

There are no two ways about it – the education system is failing the travel industry. There is a wide range of courses on offer but few provide the skills and experience needed for the workplace.

The facts are shocking – each year £30 million of taxpayers’ money is spent on more than 100 post-16 travel and tourism courses and only 12% of travel and tourism graduates end up working in the industry.

So why has travel and tourism education failed? Because the courses on offer bear little relevance to the real world of working in travel. And why is that? Because the travel industry has failed to effectively engage with the education sector.

As Brian Wisdom, chief executive of People 1st – the sector skills council for travel and tourism – rightly points out, the situation is ‘absolute madness’.

But all this is set to change. Under new plans announced this week, the industry will be able to help shape travel and tourism education by working with colleges to develop employer-endorsed courses. The result should see students leaving college with a good understanding of how the industry works and a set of skills that can be put to work immediately.

A Sector Qualification Strategy for travel and tourism should be ready by this autumn. This will be the framework through which employers and education establishments come together to help define courses. These courses will be in place for the 2009/10 academic year.

This development, along with the news that the Institute of Travel and Tourism and ABTA have secured Government funding for the Growth programme – a management course for high-flyers – is very positive news for the travel industry.

Collectively, the industry has an opportunity to shape the education that will provide its future travel professionals. By getting involved now, travel stands to gain from seeing the right type of people with the right attitude and skills moving into he industry – now surely that’s an opportunity that’s too good to miss?

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